Bloomberg Reports iPhone 8 to feature iPad-like Dock, redesigned multitasking and new gestures to replace home button

Report: iPhone 8 to feature iPad-like Dock, redesigned multitasking and new gestures to replace home button | 9to5Mac:

The ‘bezel-less’ iPhone 8 is going to be unveiled in under two weeks, and will be the first iPhone not to feature a physical home button.  A report from Bloomberg provides fresh details on how Apple plans to replace the button with new gestures and navigational elements for the iPhone 8 user interface.

At the bottom of the screen, the display will show a ‘thin bar’ where a physical button normally resides. On the lock screen, users pull this bar upwards to unlock the phone — reminiscent of the iconic ‘slide to unlock’ action that Apple removed in iOS 10. Inside an app, dragging upwards opens a redesigned multitasking UI. It sounds a lot like the new multitasking gestures for iPad we’ve seen in iOS 11 …

The big takeaway here is that Apple is pushing towards new gestures and interactions, rather than simply recreating a home button virtually and keeping the same behaviors. The iPhone 8 will mark a notable breakpoint in the company’s phone design and user interface. Read the full article over at Bloomberg.

Big changes coming to iPhone users…

Amazon Echo gains multi-room music playback

Amazon Echo gains multi-room music playback ahead of HomePod, Sonos smart speaker | 9to5Mac:

Amazon today has announced a new feature that allows users to play, synchronize, and control music playback across multiple Echo devices with support for voice commands. The news comes ahead of Apple’s HomePod launch in December and Sonos likely unveiling a new smart speaker in October. Amazon has also announced new tools for developers.

AirPods In a press release, Amazon detailed its new multi-room audio playback feature for Echo devices with a variety of music services supported and more coming soon:

You can now synchronize your music playback across Echo devices to play songs from Amazon Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Pandora, with support for Spotify and SiriusXM coming soon. Simply use the Alexa App to create groups with two or more Echo devices by naming the group, such as “downstairs.” Once you’ve created the group, simply say “Alexa, play John Mayer downstairs.”

Finally.

The Shelf is like a Desktop for iOS 11

The Shelf is like a Desktop for iOS 11 | Cult of Mac:

You just drag files into The Shelf, and leave them there until you need them. You can also copy items to the clipboard, switch to The Shelf, and hit Paste to paste them into the app — useful if you’re using the iPad with an external keyboard.

Could be a very useful app that expands on the drag and drop functionality coming in iOS 11.

Safari in iOS 11 converts Google’s AMP links back to the original URLs

Safari in iOS 11 converts Google’s AMP links back to the original URLs | 9to5Mac:

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) may have been sold to users on the basis of faster-loading webpages, but the company’s underlying motivation is to lock publishers into Google’s ad network. For users, it makes it harder to see which site you’re being taken to, and trickier to share links to specific pages.

Apple is now addressing the second issue in iOS 11 by having Safari convert AMP links back into the original URLs when shared …

NordVPN MacStories founder Federico Viticci first spotted this.

Very nice: when sharing AMP pages to iMessage or Reading List, iOS 11 Safari automatically removes AMP’s crap from the URL. Go Apple.

At present, all AMP URLS shared from Safari begin with https://wwww.google.com/amp/.

Good spot from Federico here – Apple continuing to strip control away from Google when their own devices and software are used to allow a more clean, streamlined UI.

Samsung confirms it will compete with Apple’s HomePod

Killian Bell for Cult of Mac:

Surprise, surprise; the rumors were true. Samsung will compete with Apple’s hottest new gadget.

In a new interview following the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 on Tuesday, Samsung mobile president DJ Koh confirmed the company is developing a smart speaker that will take on HomePod and Amazon Alexa. He also hinted that it will be announced “soon.”

Sources familiar with Samsung’s plans told The Wall Street Journal back in July that the South Korean company was interested in competing with HomePod and similar devices. It was said to be developing a device codenamed “Vega” that would have its Bixby assistant built-in.

Samsung quickly denied this rumor, with an unnamed executive telling The Korea Herald that it had no interest in such a device, with the market already dominated by Amazon’s Alexa devices. Now we know those claims were false.

Speaking to CNBC following the launch of the Note 8, Koh said he is “already working on” a smart speaker, and “maybe soon we will announce it.” He wants to ensure the device will “provide a fruitful user experience at home with Samsung devices.”

“I want to be moving quite heavily on it,” he added, suggesting the device is an important part of Samsung’s future product lineup.

I would be disappointed if Samsung didn’t bring out their own version of HomePod!

AirPods + Apple Watch

Michael Simon for Macworld:

Apple doesn’t sell any accessories for Apple Watch other than bands and chargers, but AirPods are the closest thing. Small, light, and fully wireless, they’re the perfect companion to Apple Watch, and I suspect an LTE watch would kick off a new marketing campaign selling the two as a pair.

What’s most interesting about that scenario is that an iPhone isn’t even necessary. With an LTE watch and Siri-powered Bluetooth earbuds, you could stream Apple Music, make phones calls, send messages, and get news and scores without needing a phone. And that could open up Apple Watch to Android users, too. After all, the iPod didn’t really take off until Apple let Windows users get in on the fun, and I can tell you from experience that the Android Wear options leave much to be desired. With an on-watch App Store, all Apple would really need is a Watch app in the Play Store.

But even without Android support, the Series 3 Apple Watch is shaping up to be a monumental release. LTE opens up Apple’s wearable to a new world of possibilities, and it could shift the balance between it and the iPhone. We wouldn’t even have to worry about remembering to bring our phone everywhere we go as long as we had an Apple Watch strapped to our wrist.

I can certainly see a near future where AirPods + Apple Watch are the perfect mobile setup. You still have an iPhone, but it’s no longer essential that it needs to be with you all the time.


Google Home now supports free Spotify accounts

The Verge:

Google Home can now stream music from free Spotify accounts, as spotted by Android Police. Google promised to make its Home speaker compatible with more music and video streaming services back at I/O in May, with a list included Deezer, SoundCloud, HBO Now, and Hulu; Home already supports premium Spotify accounts.

With Home, you can ask the device to play a particular song, artist, or album, and with a free-account, requesting these will start a station of songs inspired by the item you choose. If you request a playlist, the music will start playing in shuffle mode. You’re also able to ask for music to be played based on genre, mood, or activity, or for Spotify-curated playlists on a free account, Google says.

If you want to set up your free Spotify account with Home, open the Google Home app, and tap “music.” To choose your default service, tap the radio icon next to the service you want. Spotify needs to be linked, so to connect your account, tap on “link,” and sign into your Spotify account.

Until HomePod comes out from Apple, voice-activated music playing using Spotify and Google Home and/or Amazon Echo the best, fantastic, living-in-the-future service.

Apple Releases iOS 11 and iPad How-To Videos

John Vorhees:

Apple has published a series of six short videos to YouTube highlighting the marquee features of iOS 11 on the iPad. Each of the how-to videos is about one minute long and shows how to use a new feature:

  • ‘How to harness the power of the amazing new dock’ demonstrates how to add items to the dock, access recent files, and drag files into apps like Messages.
  • ‘How to mark stuff up with Apple Pencil’ shows how to mark up notes from the lock screen, Mail attachments, photos, and screenshots.
  • ‘How to manage and fly through your files with iOS 11’ is a quick tour of the new Files app, including how to use recents, favorites, and various cloud services.
  • ‘How to effortlessly scan, sign, and send a document with iOS 11’ shows someone scanning, signing, and sending a lease using the the Notes app.
  • ‘How to get more things done more quickly with multitasking with iOS 11’ explains how to share images in a Keynote presentation in Messages using Slide Over.
  • ‘How to get the most out of your hands with iOS 11’ demonstrates how to use two hands to drag and drop multiple images.

The videos do an excellent job of describing and demonstrating each new feature quickly and simply. With iOS 11 just weeks away, a little pre-launch education about its new capabilities on the iPad is a smart move by Apple.

Apple Watch with LTE Potential

Chance Miller:

The Apple Watch argument is a bit different. There are countless instances where I would love to leave my iPhone in the car or at home, but simply can’t due to the possibility of a family emergency or something else that requires an immediate response. With an LTE Apple Watch, however, I could do just that. Leave my iPhone behind, yet stay connected wherever I go. Whether it be out for a hike with the dog, out to dinner, or even just for an “iPhone-free day,” which sounds quite appealing a lot of the time.

There’s much more to this argument, though. Apple has to ensure that Apple Watch truly remains fully functional without an iPhone connection. This should include app notifications, calls, SMS messages and iMessages, and more. The whole lot. One missed notification because of a weird forwarding bug completely erases the peace of mind that an LTE Apple Watch provides.

Wi-Fi Assist and Wi-Fi Calling: What’s the difference?

Wi-Fi Assist and Wi-Fi Calling: What’s the difference? | Macworld:

Wi-Fi Assist is a feature in the iPhone to help with internet connections. The name is a little misleading, though as reader Bob Andres finds out:

Does Wi-Fi Assist boost cell phone reception in a low-service area?? We have poor service in our stone office building and are hoping Wi-Fi Assist will make the difference.

Unfortunately, no. Wi-Fi Assist is exactly the opposite. If you’re on a Wi-Fi network and access is spotty, iOS will “assist Wi-Fi” by tapping into an accessible cellular network. (And, warning, a lot of people in the past have sucked down massive amounts of data unintentionally by enabling this feature, which Apple has turned on by default. I haven’t received horror stories lately, so perhaps it’s been fully tamed.)

If this is about cellular calling, however, there’s a separate feature on an iPhone 5c or later that can help: Wi-Fi Calling. It lets you place phone calls via a Wi-Fi network, which routes them to your carrier’s telephone network, rather than use cellular signals. Your carrier has to offer this as a feature, and many do. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are three that do.

The Wi-Fi Calling setting in iOS requires support from your mobile carrier. In Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling, you tap the switch on, and then wait for carrier activation. You have to enter a fixed address for emergency or 911 calls. This is meant as a sort of extra backup in case your location can’t be obtained from a cellular network when an emergency call is placed, since you can use Wi-Fi Calling on networks other than your home network.

Once the feature is enabled, the label Wi-Fi appears to the right of the carrier name in the status bar in iOS. If you turn on Calls on Other Devices for other iOS hardware and Macs—models released mostly in the last five years—that use the same iCloud account, you can also make Wi-Fi calls from those devices.